How far can you read into one sentence? Let’s find out.
Yesterday I asked T.J. Otzleberger about the Iowa State job, which is not open yet. Steve Prohm has not been fired.
Some Iowa State fans have been looking to T.J. Otzelberger for over a month now. Last week, ESPN named Otzelberger a top two candidate for the Cyclone job, which again is still occupied.
There isn’t much reason to ask a coach with three years left on his contract about taking a job that is still filled.
But the second Steve Prohm is fired, the question becomes valid. The problem in 2021 is that press conferences are few and far between. After every UNLV game, Otzelberger holds a press conference. But you can count on one had the amount of non post game press conferences UNLV has had for basketball this season.
So, when we got a press conference ahead of the Mountain West Tournament, I thought it might be the only chance to ask Otzelberger about Iowa State that wasn’t immediately following a season-ending loss or season-saving win.
Even though Steve Prohm hasn’t been fired, I still asked the question.
I even tried to soften him up by asking about his book case. Seriously look at the color coordination on these shelves.
The question: “Would the Iowa State job be a job that you would consider taking?”
The answer: “I don’t have any comment on that.”
An unremarkable exchange. Maybe even an expected answer.
But here is why I asked the question that way. Otzelberger, major credit to him, answers every question in depth. He hasn’t blown up on a reporter. Even when I asked him the laughable question of if he could get his program to Sam Diego State’s level by next season, he answered it thoroughly.
So I thought I had a chance to ask the simplest of questions and let him talk. But he didn’t – for maybe the first time.
I considered going more specific with a question like “How is your relationship with Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard?”. Catch him a little off guard.
But I kept it simple and Otzelberger went even simpler.
I also wouldn’t read too much into his seven word answer. There isn’t an answer to that question that would please anyone.
Even if he said, “I am the head coach of UNLV and I am focused on the Mountain West Tournament and building this program into a champion for years and years.” You would have called him a liar.
Because of course he would be interested in the Iowa State job. He has a long history there, a presumably great relationship with the AD and they would likely double his salary.
The main question is if Iowa State would go through with firing Prohm and targeting Otzelberger and paying the combined $8 million in buyouts.
And that is not one to ask Otzelberger.